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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, John Eyles, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby



Provocateur Records PVC 1030

Trumpet: Guy Barker
Alto Saxophone: Rosario Giuliani
Tenor Saxophone: Denys Baptiste
Trombone: Barnaby Dickinson
Piano/Hammond Organ: Jim Watson
Bass: Orlando Le Fleming
Drums: Sebastiaan De Krom

Except "Susannah's Song" ( Trumpet: Guy Barker, Piano: Bernardo Sassetti ) and "Queen Of The Night" (Trumpet: Guy Barker, Bass, Geoff Gascoyne, Drums: Sebastiaan De Krom)

Recorded November 2001, Angel Studios, London.


1. Underdogs
2. Nature Boy
3. Waiting For The Delay
4. Purr
5. Susannah's Song
6. Izzatso !
7. Queen Of The Night


- Opening Titles
- The Guy
- The Girl
- The Bad Guy
- The Chase, The Romance And The End

I must state from the outset that I thoroughly enjoyed this latest offering from Guy Barker. Looking at the personnel prior to listening to the album I expected a small group blowing session - of course there is nothing wrong with that, but over the years there have been a great deal of these to choose from and with the current re-issue program of many of the leading companies there is no shortage of classic performances to select from each month. What this disc has to recommend it is some absolutely world class small ensemble writing . By integrating the organ into the overall texture an impression of a much larger band is given. There is still a high quota of improvisation, but it is beautifully framed within the arrangements. All but two of the compositions are by Barker and it would appear that the majority of the orchestration are by him.

The opening track reminds me of so many different styles- I can hear Buddy Rich and Gene Krupa in the orchestration and there are overtones of Quincy Jones, Charles Mingus and even "Mission Impossible" in this piece! Barker imposes himself on this number with a strong statement which sets the tone for the whole session. The next piece has some lyrical trumpet with more than a nod to mid-period Miles Davis and the arrangement has a Gil Evans feel although the brass and saxophone backings conjure up Duke Ellington.

"Waiting For The Delay " has some potent trombone playing by Barnaby Dickinson on this bluesy " Sidewinder-ish" groove. "Izzatso" is a joyous Latin piece with a tinge of Spain in the theme, while the take on Mozart's "Queen Of The Night" has an air of Mile's "Porgy And Bess" with a nod to Cootie Williams and Rex Stewart audible in the growl trumpet with its half valve effects.

Part two is Ellingtonian in the sense that it is a series of mini concertos for the various soloists in the group. "The Guy" is played by Denys Baptiste on a throaty sounding tenor saxophone which is one of the many highlights on this disc. "The Girl is a feature for the alto saxophone of Rosario Giuliani and shows off his modern tone to its best advantage.
Throughout this disc the playing of Guy Barker is a revelation - he obviously has very deep roots but has found his own personal voice. If this is a taste of things to come I look forward to future releases with great anticipation. Quite rightly this disc has recently been given a Mercury Jazz award.

Dick Stafford


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